- October 28, 2021
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If your skin often feels greasy and you experience the occasional bout of acne breakouts, you may be experiencing oily skin. While everyone’s skin normally produces oil thanks to the sebaceous glands (the glands in your skin that naturally produce oil called sebum), some people’s skin produces an excess, leading to oily skin.
People with oily skin are often inclined to use a myriad of products like blotting sheets, refining cleansers, and pore-tightening face masks, but toners can be an effective way to combat oils and reduce breakouts without irritating or drying out the skin.
When shopping for a toner, you’ll want to consider other characteristics of your skin. Do you have combination skin that’s sometimes dry? Are you prone to breakouts, or is your skin sensitive to certain ingredients? (If so, you should do a patch test before regularly using it.) There are also a variety of options available to fit every budget, so cost is another factor to consider when doing your research.
We chose the following toners by considering a wide range of needs, such as skin types, budget, and what ingredients they contain. Once you’ve narrowed your skin goals down, you may be able to choose a formula that will fit your needs from our list.
This toner from Paula’s Choice does it all if your skin woes don’t stop at an extra sheen. Antioxidants, calming plant extracts (like burdock root extract, a natural plant that’s a powerhouse of antioxidants), and niacinamide work together to cut down on oiliness while tightening the pores.
It’s also lightweight, refreshes the skin, and provides light hydration thanks to hyaluronic acid and ceramide, which are key ingredients that restore the skin’s moisture barrier. Additionally, if you tend to sometimes still have traces of makeup leftover after cleansing your skin, this formula can take care of that as well. It’s also an easy-to-find option that won’t break the bank.
This budget-friendly drugstore find is a great option for those seeking a more natural option that likely won’t irritate the skin. Made with natural and distilled witch hazel — an ingredient that reduces skin irritation and inflammation — this toner works to remove and balance oil while gently soothing and refreshing the skin without overdrying.
Another easy-to-find and affordable drugstore option, this toner from Neutrogena packs in clarifying ingredients like witch hazel and alpha and beta hydroxy acids, which actively work to minimize pores and reduce breakouts while also eliminating oil. This hypoallergenic formula is also great for skin that’s more on the sensitive side since it’s not overdrying, allowing the skin to feel refreshed and smooth with each use.
If along with oiliness, your skin is sensitive to certain ingredients, this is the toner for you. Elderberry fruit extract is a gentle ingredient that provides potent antioxidants to combat excess oil and impurities, and sodium PCA (a naturally occurring amino acid) binds to water to retain moisture in the skin. Meanwhile, sorbitol-biosaccharide gum-1 is a natural sugar that soothes and hydrates.
Whether you’ve got combination skin or are prone to breakouts, this Mario Badescu toner is awesome. This product works to brighten and balance the skin with key ingredients like glycolic acid, grapefruit extract, and aloe, which also work together to help reduce pores and the appearance of fine lines.
However, you’ll just want to note that it contains an alpha hydroxy acid (otherwise known as AHAs, which are a group of plant and animal amino acids), which may increase sun sensitivity, so you should apply sunscreen on top if you’re heading outdoors.
You may be thinking “What? Using oil to fight oil?” However, tea tree essential oil is not actually oily and has long been touted for its acne-fighting properties, which can also help to combat excess sebum. This vegan toner is another option for those seeking a more natural formula that’s less likely to irritate the skin. Tea tree is also effective at purifying and mattifying the skin, meaning it not only reduces oil itself but works to reduce visible sheen.
Another affordable drugstore buy, this toner has exfoliating effects that will help to smooth and brighten the skin, thanks to 5 percent glycolic acid (an acne-fighting AHA), in addition to cutting down on oiliness. Ginseng and aloe vera work to soothe and refresh the skin, providing a healthy glow without irritation.
Many toner options contain alcohol, which can be overdrying for those with particularly sensitive skin. This toner from Clarins is specifically targeted to those with oily or combination skin, which works to remove cleanser residue along with impurities and buildup. Iris essence also helps to soothe and refresh, leaving skin feeling plump and clean.
This soothing herbal astringent is great for oily skin. It features super soothing ingredients, like camphor, an oil extracted from camphor trees, and sodium PCA, a derivative of amino acids that helps to condition and moisturizer the skin. As a bonus, if you adore the smell and feel of menthol in skin care products, you’ll absolutely love this product.
If excess oil is a major issue for you, it may be worth investing in this Clinique clarifying toner made specifically for overly oily skin types. This gentle product exfoliates and brightens the skin with witch hazel, which also soothes and clarifies, while salicylic acid works to prevent future breakouts.
You can apply toner either with a soaked cotton ball or pad, or with clean hands. You should use a toner once or twice a day, in the morning and/or evening immediately after washing and drying your face. You should also be sure to avoid getting it in or near your eyes. You can also apply it to your neck, chest, or back if those areas tend to be prone to breakouts as well.
If you’re someone who experiences oily skin, adding a toner to your skin care regimen can be an effective way to cut down on greasiness and shine while also leaving your skin feeling clean and refreshed.
By determining the other top characteristics of your skin type, you can narrow your options down to pick the best toner option for you. If you continue to have trouble finding a formula that doesn’t exacerbate your skin issues, you should talk with a dermatologist to find the best options.
Emilia Benton is a freelance writer and editor based in Houston, Texas. She’s also a nine-time marathoner, avid baker, and frequent traveler.
Last medically reviewed on October 28, 2021